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Friday, April 24, 2009

Church and State Blogger Wine Dinner

For our latest FoodDigger blogger dinner, we had the pleasure of working with Chef Walter Manzke of Church and State. Formerly of Bastide, El Bulli, Patina and most recently, Bouchee in Carmel, Walter joined forces with restauranteur Stephen Arroyo and Yassmin Sarmadi in December of '08. And he didn't come alone. With him, he brought along Josh Goldman as Maitre d' and sommelier, and a number of staff from Bastide. Josh was previously GM of Bastide and a former sommelier at Bin 8945.

Walter, who is old friends with FoodDigger founder Marshal, agreed to come up with a four course meal with wine pairings. Bloggers in attendance included H.C. of http://www.la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com/; Sharon of http://www.weezermonkey.blogspot.com/; Cathy of http://www.gastronomyblog.com/; Kevin of http://www.kevineats.com/; Mike of http://www.pepsimonster.com/; Ila of http://www.inomthings.blogspot.com/; Danny of http://www.kungfoodpanda.blogspot.com/; and Kathleen of http://www.kats9lives.com/.

After some back and forth with Walter and Yassmin in the weeks prior to the event, our four course meal became an 11 course extravaganza of a chef's tasting menu. Walter was given carte blanche of the menu, and decided on the fly what would be served. Josh noted that in addition to his duties as maitre d', it was quite the task to pair 9 wines for our party of 12 as Walter decided what would be served.

Our dinner began.

Apertif of Floc de gascogne. A vin de liqueur fortified with armagnac, it was served with ice and orange zest. This sweet wine had hints of almond and honey.

Beignets de Brandade de Morue- Bacaloa, or salt cod, mixed with mashed potatoes and deep fried as fritters. With barely any potatoe, these beignets were amazing, especially accompanied by the saffron aioli.

Iced Kumamoto Oysters-Served simply on a bed of ice with lemon wedges and a red wine mignonette. Kumamoto oysters, originally from Japan, are now farmed in Washington, in particular bays that have similiar characteristics to the Japanese waters whence they originated. Always a favorite of mine, with their delicate sweetness and brine.

The initial dishes were paired with a Hugues Beaulieu-Coteaux de Languedoc. This white wine paired nicely with the oysters, with hints of grapefruit and lemon.

Gambas a la Nicoise- Santa Barbara spot prawns, halved and broiled, then topped with lemon and olive oil. Sweet, tender...simple and delicious, topped with a vegetable relish.

Bistro Sushi-a tiny, molded slice of fingerling potatoe salad topped with smoked herring. The smokiness from the herring dominated the dish. I like it very much.

The shrimp and herring were paired with a 2007 Domaine de Persenades-Cotes de Gascogne. Refreshing hints of citris and floral notes made this wine from the southwestern region of France a great pair for both dishes, although the smoked herring almost overpowered the wine.

Assiette de Charcuterie-This was a selection of housemade pates and meats that included saucisson sec(dried sausage), foie gras terrine with port gelee, pork rillettes with prune confiture, among other items. The charcuterie was incredible...one of the signature offerings of Walter's menu. It paired with an N.V. Terres Dorees FRV100 Beaujolais.

Asperge a la Tashiro-Hog Farm's Asparagus topped with Maine lobster. Hog Farm, owned by Ray Ranscioni and located in Carmel, began over 30 years ago and produces a thick and beautifully tender asparagus. The lobster, generously donated for the meal by Marshal, was poached and topped the steamed asparagus, which was lightly seasoned and dressed with olive oil. Marshal included a few extra lobsters, intended as gifts to Walter and Yassmin. Walter, however, chose to create this dish and dedicate it to Marshal, and included it on his menu for the night. Apparently, Josh saw a number of orders come through, so hopefully, it will become a mainstay.

Escargots de Bourgogne-snails in garlic and parsley butter, placed in a tiny ramekin and topped with puff pastry. I can honestly say this is the best escargot I've ever had. Pushing the flaky baked pastry into the melted butter allowed the already butter-rich topping to absorb more butter and garlic. Truly awesome!

The asparagus and escargot were paired with a Domaine Boisson-Cairanne Grenache. I'm not a fan of Rhone wines, so I wasn't thrilled by the pairing.

Flamenkushe-A flat bread topped with caramelized onions, bacon, gruyere and veggies. The bread was light and airy, and the smokiness of the bacon lardon and the sweetness of the onions dominated the dish. Some opinions were that it was too sweet, but I found it delectable.

This paired with an '07 Maupertuis La Guillaume-Auvergne. Guillaume is William in French, so I had no choice but to love it.

Moelle de Boeuff-Roasted marrow bone. Marrow bones, about 8 inches long, halved and seasoned simply with salt and pepper, were roasted. Served with toasted slices of brioche and a radish relish, this was my 'heavenly light shining down on me' dish/moment.

The marrow was paired with an '07 Domaine Cros de Romet-Cairanne. I can't really remember the grenache/syrah blend's pairing, as all that comes to mind is that rich flavor of roasted marrow tempered by the radish relish.

Steak Frites-Frites au lard, with steak. Accompanied by a Bernaise and Beaujolais sauces. Quite franky, after the richness of the marrow, I was done, especially after finding it was too rich for some and luckily having much more than my share. The beef was a bit overdone at medium, making it a bit tough. I enjoyed the sauces, as it allowed a segue on my palate from the marrow. Kevin noted that it overpowered the beef in a negative way. I agree that it did overpower the beef, but I think it was necessary after the marrow.

Paired with an -06 Domaine Etxegaraya.

Dessert-Creme Brulee, Cherry tart, apricot tart Croustade aux Baies Pot de Creme au Chocolate.

This gorgeous platter of desserts looked amazing, but my senses were in overdrive. I did not partake in this last dish, but I heard the 'hmmms' from numerous bloggers. I did, however, partake in the pairing of Julien Fremont Cidre Brut Par Nature.

Overall, the meal was amazing. Incredible food, thoughtful wine pairings and phenomenal company are always a recipe for a memorable meal. Walter came through with this special meal, and he even found a number of opportunities to chat and take photos. Special thanks to all of the bloggers who made it out for the evening, and also to Walter and Josh for making this 'one of best events yet', to quote Kevin. Based on the glazed looks and satisfied smiles of Mike, H.C., Danny, Kathy, Kat, Kevin, Ila and Sharon, I would agree.

These events are great fun and we thank the bloggers for their continued support. Only with their support can we truly make our visions of a viable restaurant resource a reality. If you're a blogger whom we haven't reached out to yet, let us know and share a future memory with us.


weezermonkey said...

This event was so fun! Thanks so much for inviting me!

Be on the lookout for my review some time next week. :)

kevinEats said...

Dang, you're quick with these posts. So far I've compiled all my notes and most of the research and have edited the photos. I then need to write a first draft, polish it and post. Hopefully I'll have it up by Monday night; gonna try to get out One Sunset tonight.

I will reiterate that this was arguably the top FD event so far, though I've heard good things about the inaugural event at Jinpachi.

FoodDigger said...

Sharon, can't wait to read your review! It was great having you.

Kevin: I don't think I could possibly do that much work on a post. I guess that's why I refer people to www.kevineats.com so much!

I think you would've loved Jinpachi. Both incredible events.

Kung Food Panda said...

Damn, that was fast!

Again, thanks again for the invite and I hope to get my review up soon! I love the ideas FD is doing for us bloggers and I hope to see the final product soon!

Great event guys!

FoodDigger said...

Hey Danny, it was good seeing you again. First Urasawa, then a great meal at C & S. We'll have to keep this up! Can't wait to read your post

Gastronomer said...

Will, Will, Will... I had a spectacular time at C&S. Thank you again for the invite and I look forward to doing it again soon. This was the best meal I've had in L.A. since moving here in October 08. Grazie!

FoodDigger said...

Hey Kathy! I'm so glad you could join us, and I'm so happy you had a good time. It was great sharing such a great meal with you and all of the others. We'll see you soon, ok?

FoodDigger said...

oops...sorry Cathy, unintentionally spelled your name wrong. By the way, I'm still working on acquiring some "natural" foie gras. I'll let you know if I'm successful!

Gastronomer said...

Speaking of Foie Gras, I'm currently reading "Foie Gras Wars" by Mark Caro. It discusses the whole foie gras controversy in America from Chicago to Philly to California. I think you'll really enjoy it. The writer is a pretty funny guy.

weezermonkey said...

So much for "next week."

But it is "next next week" now, and my post is up!

Kung Food Panda said...

My review is finally complete! (http://kungfoodpanda.blogspot.com/2009/05/fooddigger-dinner-church-state-los.html)

Thanks again for hosting such a wonderful meal!

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